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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Jul 8, 2016

Head Comment: With concurring opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Brittney S. Hollis (on rehearing) and Rob McKinney, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Randall T. Beaty.

Attorneys 2:

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Lawrence Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and Thomas Boone Dean and Jayson Criddle, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): HOLLOWAY

Defendant, Randall T. Beaty, was indicted for first degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse. After a jury trial, he was convicted of reckless homicide and aggravated assault, which were charged to the jury as lesser included offenses. He received consecutive sentences of four years for reckless homicide and six years for aggravated assault, for an effective ten-year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) that the trial court erred by allowing Detective Bachman to testify in violation of the rule of sequestration; (3) that the trial court erred by excluding a proffer by Amber Peveler; (4) that the trial court erred in failing to merge his convictions on double jeopardy grounds; and (5) that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing. As to the alleged violation of the rule of sequestration, we hold, pursuant to State v. Jordan, 325 S.W.3d 1, 40 (Tenn. 2010), that the State had the right under Tennessee Rule of Evidence 615 to designate an investigating officer as exempt from sequestration and the designated investigating officer can remain in the courtroom during the testimony of other witnesses. We further recognize, as a matter of plain error, that the jury‘s verdict for aggravated assault failed to specify the mens rea with which the Defendant acted, and we conclude that the Defendant‘s judgment of conviction for knowing aggravated assault, a Class C felony, must be modified to reflect a conviction for reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony. We, therefore, modify the conviction in Count 2 to a Class D felony reckless aggravated assault, find sufficient evidence to support the conviction, and modify Defendant‘s sentence in Count 2 to four years‘ incarceration to be served consecutively to the four year sentence for reckless homicide. We also conclude that the conviction for reckless aggravated assault does not merge with ?? the conviction for reckless homicide. All other aspects of Defendant‘s convictions are affirmed.